A while back I posted a copy of the essay I was writing for college admission. It was supposed to be about my journey to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up, but ended up being mostly about my ex-fiance. So I scrapped it and began a search for a new topic. Someone told me to write about my military experience and how it had made me a responsible mature person who would excel in a college environment. I thought this was a little too cliche. I’m sure EVERY prior military member who has applied for college has written about the same thing. But I gave it a try anyway. It ended up being an essay about my Father’s parenting technique. So I scrapped that too. Then I tried surrendering to the path my mind was apparently trying to follow and just write about how my life has been changed and directed by the men in my life…but that was a trainwreck from start to finish. Finally a good friend of mind helped inspire me with a new topic idea and I think it turned out really well so I wanted to share it with you guys. I think it does a pretty good job of defining who I am and what makes me unique and special.
My parents got divorced almost as soon as I was born. I was obviously too young to remember the event, but I am pretty sure that even as an infant I wasn’t surprised by my parents’ separation, and understood it to be both natural and necessary. The fact that an uptight drill sergeant and a rule breaking hippy even came together long enough for me to come into existence is a sort of weird glitch in nature. When I asked my mom why it ever happened, she said that the universe saw fit to bring together two conflicting energies, two forces that should never have met, so that I could come into being because I am meant to accomplish great things in this incarnation. My dad says it happened because he was about to deploy overseas and thought he was going to die and wanted to leave a genetic legacy behind, and my mom happened to be there and willing. Whichever story is true, whatever brought them together; it kept them that way just long enough for my successful birth, and then set them free to realize what a horrible mistake their marriage had been and part ways as quickly as possible. And their exit from the stage leaves us to focus on the main subject of this story: Me.
My name is Megan Whitt. It is a very simple and uninspiring name that I have often been frustrated by, but more than that, it is deceptive. My plain-Jane name lends the idea that I am a simple and easy to manage person. However, someone only has to be in my presence for a few days to realize that I am not a simple person. I am, in fact, quite the opposite. As a good friend of mine put it, I am a living embodiment of contradictions.One would think that having two parents so vastly different from each other, I would have taken after one or the other, especially since I was completely raised by only one of them. But, in actuality, I grew up to be a chocolate-vanilla swirl of the two. As if I were two completely different people sharing one body, I somehow manage to be both obsessively structured and artistically sloppy, both uptight and easygoing, both rule enforcing and rebellious, all at the same time. Sometimes my contradictions refuse to blend and then the two halves of me are viciously at war with each other; one part desperate to do what she’s supposed to and please her superiors and get that gold star while the other side of me rebels and rages at the very notion of bending to other people’s expectations and longs to float away on the gypsy breeze. But most of the time, my contradictions manage to coexist so that I become a perfect embodiment of compromise; I can see both sides of any argument as if they were my own passionate cause and am able to see the common ground between the two and walk a perfect line right down the middle that makes everyone happy.I had always been aware of the odd hybrid nature of my existence, but it was only recently that I consciously put words to it, and finally doing so caused an epiphany that ended the desperate struggle I had been undergoing for 6 years to figure out what career field I was destined to pursue. Over the course of this struggle I had orbited ideas like psychologist, data analyst, receptionist, author, editor, veterinarian, doggy day care owner, librarian, curator, barista, bartender, baker, and even tattoo artist. As this list clearly shows, my interests are rather diverse and since I wanted to do them all, I was having a very difficult time limiting myself to only one of these interests for the rest of my life. And as the end of my military service and the beginning of college quickly approached, I was starting to get very worried that I would never be able to make a clear choice and would spend my valuable college time lost in indecision without any clear goals to guide me to a successful graduation. But then, during a routine casual lunch date with a good friend, I defined my contrary nature out loud for the first time, and suddenly I felt my whole perspective on the world shift. It wasn’t a big shift, only a few degrees to the side. But those few degrees were just enough to let me catch a glimpse of a space I hadn’t been able to see before, and through that space I could just barely see the answer I’d been seeking:The key to finding my perfect career, my perfect job, my perfect major; that one place in the world that’s custom fit for me and that can’t be properly filled by anyone else, is to focus on what makes me different from everyone else. Previously, I had been focusing on things like my talent for listening to people’s problems, my love of reading, and my love of all things artistic. Those were not things that were unique to me. I shared those traits with millions of other people. But I have never met or even heard of another person as contradictory as me, so that is what I needed to focus on.At first this realization only served to frustrate me more. The question “How is being contradictory going to be a benefit in any sort of job?” continued to perplex. Then it hit me: it wasn’t a matter of my unique trait being desired by others. What was important was using my contradictory nature as a guide to help me find a place where both sides of me would be fulfilled and happy. If I could find a place where both the artistic whimsical side of me and the well-organized obsessive part of me would both be satiated, then I would be twice as happy and twice as productive as compared to a job where I am only being artistic and my more rigid half is left to become a wilted lump in the background, quietly weighing down the rest of me, or vice-versa: a job full of organization and numbers where I am starved of creative outlets. But where would I find such a job, a place where I could be both artistic and logical, both rigidly organized and free of constraint?Then I found it, or more like re-found it: Editor. More specifically, book editor: the job I had been circling back to over and over again ever since I had heard about it shortly after first learning to read. It so perfectly mirrors my own nature in its blending of two different worlds that I couldn’t believe it had taken me so long to decide it was the only obvious choice. The act of systematically working my way through chapter after chapter enforcing grammar and spelling rules would be a thrill to my inner OCD perfectionist. Meanwhile, the act of coming up with creative solutions to more abstract mistakes, like taking a paragraph that doesn’t quite flow with its neighbors and finding a new home for it elsewhere in the book, would allow my inner artist to breathe a contented sigh of relief. And once I’d made the decision to make this my career of choice, I remembered so many other things to love about it, like being surrounded by books (my one true love) all day, and being able to help another person make their dream come true and put their story, their heart and soul put on paper, out into the world.My Dad used to say everyone is a different kind of light source. Some people, like my sister, are like flashlights: not a particularly powerful or noteworthy source, but long-lasting and reliable and all the light going in one clear direction. He used to say I was more like a nuclear reactor. He said I had so much energy and fuel I could do anything, but without a clearly defined outlet, a goal to channel all my energy towards, I went into meltdown and sent little bursts of insanely powerful energy in every direction, burning and destroying everything around me. For a man more prone to simple facts than philosophical ideas, this was a surprisingly insightful description to how I felt in my younger years. Without a clearly defined goal to work towards I would pour way too much of myself into all areas of my life, I would often go so in-depth at the beginning of an essay, I had to rush it at the end to make the deadline and ended up with an overall shoddy and unbalanced piece of work or throw myself so fully into a new potential friendship or relationship it would actually scare the person off. But, now I know which path I want to follow and what direction I want my light to shine.My Dad said something else too. He said that so long as I lacked direction I would continue to self-destruct and achieve little. But one day when I found a single goal that I cared about enough to allow me to channel all my fuel in one direction, into one single beam of energy, that beam would be so insanely powerful that God help anyone or anything that stood between that beam and its destination.So now, I have that single goal: to work for a publishing company taking people’s dreams and sending them out into the world. Also, at long last, I have a strong sense of who I am. I am a child of contradictions, and knowing myself allows me to sit comfortably in my own skin as I leave the safe haven of the military and embark unto strange new territories in my quest for a brighter future. My engines are revved and ready to go, and my inner fire is burning as hot as the sun. Now I just need to take the first step down my chosen path; first a college classroom, next the world.